William Bolcom (May 26, 1938 - ..)
Born: 26th May, 1938
Nationality: American
Profession/Occupation: Composer
Region: Seattle, Washington, Grammy Award, Pulitzer Prize

William Bolcom Facts

Biography

William Bolcom, in full William Elden Bolcom, (born May 26, 1938, Seattle, Washington, U.S.), American composer, pianist, and teacher whose compositions encompass many idioms, from popular cabaret songs to more-traditional classical scores.

Bolcom graduated from the University of Washington in 1958 and studied composition with Darius Milhaud at Mills College (1958-61) and with Milhaud and Olivier Messiaen at the Paris Conservatory. He continued his studies at Stanford University (D.M.A., 1964). Thereafter, he taught or was composer in residence at a number of schools before becoming a professor of composition at the University of Michigan in 1973; he retired and became professor emeritus in 2008.

Throughout these years Bolcom developed his compositional abilities, attempting to break down what he saw as the artificial barriers between popular and "serious" music. A prolific composer, he wrote for solo instruments, voice, chamber groups, orchestra, film, and stage. He produced compositions of great diversity, including Dynamite Tonite (1963), a "cabaret opera"; 12 Etudes for piano (1959-66); and Open House (1975), a song cycle based on poems by Theodore Roethke. As a pianist and composer, Bolcom became well known for his interest in ragtime music; Graceful Ghost Rag (1971), written in memory of his father, is one of several compositions in that genre. He was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for 12 New Etudes for piano (1977-86). The much-acclaimed William Blake-inspired Songs of Innocence and Experience (1956-82) is a long work for soloists, chorus, and orchestra regularly performed since 1984; a recording of the work won four Grammy Awards in 2006. The operas McTeague (based on the 1899 novel by Frank Norris), A View from the Bridge (based on the 1955 play by Arthur Miller), and A Wedding (based on Robert Altman's 1978 movie) premiered at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 1992, 1999, and 2004, respectively. Bolcom was also commissioned to write works for a number of major orchestras.

From the early 1970s Bolcom and his wife, mezzo-soprano Joan Morris, performed concerts of 19th- and 20th-century American popular songs. He was also active as a writer and editor. He coedited The New Grove Gospel, Blues, and Jazz (1986), cowrote with Robert Kimball the book Reminiscing with Sissle and Blake (1973), and edited a collection of George Rochberg's essays, The Aesthetics of Survival: A Composer's View of Twentieth-Century Music (1984). In 1992 Bolcom became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Top 4 William Bolcom quotes

Now the big question is if you are going to go to all the trouble of setting an opera and making all that music and so on, there's got to be some aspect that you can do in an opera that really makes it worth while.
Aspect
Big
Big question
Go
Going
Got
Makes
Making
Music
Now
Opera
Question
Really
Setting
There's got to be something that you can do that will not just be a nice honor to the play, or the book, or the movie you're dealing with, but some aspect that maybe can explore something that the play couldn't do.
Aspect
Book
Dealing
Explore
Got
Honor
Just
Just be
Maybe
Movie
Nice
Play
Some
Something
And once I know what the first page is, then the rest will come.
Come
First
Know
Once
Page
Rest
Then
Will
I would find myself, not necessarily always assigning these little bits of music for here or there, but all of a sudden something would fall into place and it would be exactly that.
Always
Bits
Exactly
Fall
Find
Here
Little
Music
Myself
Necessarily
Place
Something
Sudden
Would

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